Why Are We Letting For-Profit Health Care Kill Us?

For-profit health care is literally killing us. Don’t take my word for it, ask a nurse!

No one needs another outrage to worry about, but here’s one that could literally be your last worry: Our for-profit health care hospitals are killing us.

Not that the staffers are going room to room snuffing out patients, of course, but hospital owners and top executives are nonetheless killing thousands of ill Americans entrusted to their care. They are doing so by deliberately short-staffing their facilities and shortchanging the sick and injured people they’re richly paid to serve.

At the core of this outrage is a fatal structural flaw in our health care system, namely that these are no longer “our” hospitals. Instead of being public or nonprofit entities for the common good, focused squarely on patients, hospitals today tend to be private operations controlled by corporate profiteers. Pitting patients against profits is no way to run a hospital, for it means money will ultimately rule over health (and over life itself). Ask a nurse.

These dedicated professionals are the solid pillars of American health. More than doctors and way more than administrators, nurses make a hospital function, providing the primary care and constant, on-site monitoring that are the essence of an ethical, healthy system. Yet, thousands have already fled the work they love, another third plan to leave this year — and thousands more are going on strike.

Why? Because the profit system demands massive staff cuts, leaving way too few nurses to meet the basic needs of patients, causing burnout among nurses… and unnecessary deaths of the people they care for. A damning 2021 study revealed that forcing fewer nurses to tend to an ever-larger caseload effectively killed more than 4,000 New York hospital patients in the previous two years alone.
Yet, the corporate powers insist on treating nurses just as a cost to be cut, arguing that hospitals must have “staffing flexibility.” In other words: cut nurses, raise profits.


Your doctor is out and unable to see you now. Not out for lunch or out on vacation — but out of medical practice.

America’s perverse health care system, which sublimates care to the profiteering demands of the Wall Street speculators who essentially own today’s system, has been driving out hordes of nurses, pharmacists… and now doctors. These practitioners take their Hippocratic Oath seriously: “First, do no harm.” Yet again and again they see corporate managers of hospital chains, physician clinics, etc. doing severe harm, routinely slashing staffing levels, eliminating services, rejecting low-income patients… and raising prices. All to prop up the profits of rich, absentee investors.

A prominent physician recently wrote that in 2021 alone, four times more doctors quit the profession than joined. He says his colleagues are demoralized by “the diseased systems for which we work.” The disease is money. The primary measure of “care” is now how much profit the system generates for its uncaring corporate owners, so one’s health is largely dependent on one’s wealth. The morally abominable result is that hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths are occurring each year. Yes, profit-based health care is a killer.

It’s time to be blunt: For-profit health care is the creation of profiteers and the politicians they buy. It’s insane to let their greed dictate the allocation and quality of this essential human need. Luckily, a better way is right in front of us: Medicare. This enormously popular public program of universal coverage for each and every American over 65 has proven to be an effective and fair system that is far cheaper and much, much more caring than Wall Street’s privatized scheme. So, let’s eliminate the profiteers by extending Medicare to all of us — every woman, man and child in our society. To help, go to: ourrevolution.com/issues.

Jim Hightower